The first weather suspension in World Series history fouls up the Phillies' possible championship clincher. Why am I not surprised?
The mood in Philadelphia shifted just as quickly as the autumn weather. Gearing up for glory (at one point, 10 outs away from glory) deteriorated into bewilderment and anger directed toward everyone and everything, from Major League Baseball to Fox Television. Indeed, the two are in cahoots regarding the ridiculousness of 8:30 p.m., East Coast, late-October baseball.
Early forecasts hinted at mist, a playable condition. The first few innings were played in these conditions. But those forecasts changed during the afternoon; the heavy stuff would hit Philadelphia head on. So Bud Selig weighed the odds, gambled and lost.
It’s the rigidity of baseball that has this observer most upset. Even shifting the start time to 7 would be impossible, when it should be so simple. All because of television, which thirsts for 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fox knows that old, impotent men, who wouldn't miss the World Series for anything, represent a broader market with deeper pockets than kids with bedtimes. The demographic who buys domestic beer, cell phones, iPods, satellite television, the Honda Fit and everything else Fox hocks during the World Series doesn’t have a problem with games that end near midnight. In golf, for example, they wouldn’t think twice about postponing a Major in questionable conditions. The demographic, consumers of luxury cars and mutual funds, is completely different.
Are there lessons to be learned from last night? Sure, but no one’s listening. They’ll do everything possible to jam the rest of Game 5 into conditions that read like this: “Mostly cloudy and windy with rain tapering off. Lows in the lower 30s. West winds 15 to 25 mph. Gusts up to 40 mph in the evening.”
Ramifications: Charlie Manuel and Joe Maddon have some decisions to mull. When play resumes, the Phils will send a pinch hitter to the plate against right-hander Grant Balfour, who’s still on the mound for Tampa. The Phils could go left/right with one of their big bats, but it’s likely Maddon would counter with David Price. Manuel could call on someone like So Taguchi to lead off the inning as a way to get some speed on the bases for Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth, and preserve his big lefty bats, who would certainly be minimized by Maddon.
Tampa’s 3-4 hitters finally come through: Lost in the blame is the fact that Tampa’s 3-4 hitters, Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, finally came through with big hits. Under miserable conditions, Pena’s RBI hit in the sixth, to drive in B.J. Upton, was the best execution the Rays had all series. It absolutely saved them.